Water, in the Head, or Hydrocephalus, is a collection of serum, either between the bones and common integuments, when it is called external; or between the bones and membranes of the brain, when it is term a internal. As the former mostly affects infants and generally proves fatal, we shall treat only of the latter species, which, if timely attended to, may frequently be removed.
Symptoms - The head of the patient is enlarged, irregularly shaped, and almost quadrangular ; the sutures are open; the bones thin and painful; the eyes appear starting from their sockets, and cannot bear the light; - the countenance is pale ; the skin delicate : the respiration difficult; with alternate flushings in the face, uneasiness, and dulness : in short, all the common signs of rickets are discernible ; few of such hapless persons attaining a considerable age; and being, in general, remarkably stupid.
Causes: - Mal-conformation of the head, which is frequently occasioned by the incautious use of emetics, opiates, and other active medicines, both during gestation, and when indiscriminately given to infants ; farther, excessive evacuations which occasion debility; feeding, as well as improper food ; spirituous and fermented liquors, especially punch ; and even strong tea; lastly, violent exercise ; falls, and bruises on the head. Cure: - The first object will be to promote the resorption of water, by means of sudorifics, and diuro tics; which are to be succeeded by tonics. Nest, cold fomentations and lotions, made by infu-sions of malt, ought to be applied, together with frictions ; and afterwards an ointment prepared of 1 oz. of pulverized fox-glove, and 1 dram of calomel; a small portion of which should be rubbed in everyday. - Prof. Stark has successfully employed the valerian, with rob of juniper and elder ; an-timonial wine ; and completed the cure with the Peruvian bark, quassia, and dandelion. - Blisters, se-tous and other artificial discharges, have occasionally been found useful; and the experienced Dr. Rowley recommends an ointment of 7 to be applied to the crown of the head, for three or four weeks.
Where this formidable malady arises from suppressed perspiration, the head should be shaved, rubbed with a brush, and afterwards covered with a blister, or, at least with flannel. - Cupping has also frequently proved of service. Independently of external remedies however, the patient ought to take, such diuretics, and sudorifics, as are conformable to the nature of complaint; which always requires medical attendance.